Published: March 23, 2021
In 1968, Emma Lee Turney sent a press release into Life magazine announcing the creation of a show at the Round Top Rifle Hall. It had 26 dealers, many of whom dealt in American country antiques. In the ensuing years, the Round Top Antiques Fair became one of the largest antiques shows in the country.
Turney passed away Saturday, March 6, at the age of 92.
Born on September 27, 1928 in Arkansas and raised in Oklahoma, Turney moved to Houston in 1946 as she pursued a career in dancing. She soon opened an antique store co-op with other dealers.
Turney was doing 18 shows a year in the 1960s before she started the Original Round Top Antiques Fair, which went on to occupy the Big Red Barn in Carmine, Texas. Her show schedule included stops in New Orleans, Austin, Dallas, Fredericksburg, Rosenberg and Houston. She sold her business to Susan Franks in 2005.
Wrote her friend, Barbara Tungate, “And then there was Round Top, a tiny town of 77 at the time. Hazel Ledbetter, Faith Bybee and Miss Ima Hogg were quietly restoring early Texas homes and Inns near Round Top. They approached Ms Turney and asked her to start a country-themed show to provide a source for others interested in restoration to be able to buy the right furniture and fixtures. Emma agreed with the caveat that visitors would be able to visit their historic homes.”
Turney would go on to author Antiques Business as a Lifestyle in 1978 and Denim and Diamonds in 1998.
Many in the business described her as a master networker, a style maven and a force in the industry who elevated country Americana into the American consciousness.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
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